Star Citizen, Eagle Scout: Michael '19
Michael, an Eagle Scout and 9th grade student who has been at TASIS for 2 ½ years, has been chosen for May’s Community Service Spotlight. Originally from the United States, he brought his dedication to the Boy Scouts of America across the pond.
The Eagle Rank is the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouting program. Only four percent of Boy Scouts achieve this title, due to the lengthy review process and many requirements, such as earning more than 21 merit badges. Michael attained Eagle Rank with the completion of his Eagle Project—renovating and restoring the Christ Church, Virginia Water, cemetery.
His project inspired him to continue to make a difference, and he joined TASIS England students in the Young Life Service Trip to Bulgaria in April 2016.
What inspired you to complete your Eagle Scout Project?
Michael: I started Boy Scouts in 4th grade. I knew when I joined that I wanted to continue until reaching Eagle Rank. For over five years, everything has been a build-up to my Eagle Project—the numerous merit badges, camping nights, and learning of life skills. Once I started planning the colossal project, I knew that all my hard work would pay off. While searching for a project, I found that Christ Church in Virginia Water needed help in clearing their large cemetery. The church was trying to renovate the cemetery as many other clubs and organizations use the church as a meeting place. I chose this specific church and project because, in Middle School, I attended meetings at Christ Church as a part of WyldLife. I had always seen the need for the renovation of their cemetery. After a meeting with Christ Church when I was reminded of the project, I instantly wanted to help. The goal was to make the cemetery look more like a park, with the hope that people would be able to see from one side to the other (a view unobstructed by trees or brush). They had cut massive branches off trees, but left them laying all over the graves and paths. I made a plan with the church that had several goals. The first was to clear the massive branches that lay everywhere, and chip them in a wood chipper. The second involved cutting down the huge bushes that grew on the graves and had reached heights of 10 feet. And the third was to clean up the trash, the graves, and the large branches hanging down from the trees. The project took a long time to plan as the many steps needed to be approved by the council. I held a fundraiser for the project to help pay for the expenses. I also organized volunteers and advertised my project. All my Boy Scout goals are now accomplished and I am very happy with the result. I look forward to helping other scouts with their Boy Scout projects.
Did you have any favorite moment throughout your Eagle Scout Project?
Michael: Though I have many memories, the day when we discovered about 15 graves would have to be my favorite. We were clearing the cemetery’s ground and removing huge branches, and in the process we found graves that had long been buried under dirt, roots, and trash. I enjoyed restoring the graves and making the cemetery look less like a jungle and more like a park, where people can now come together and connect. I also enjoyed seeing our 6-foot tall pile of wood chips finished.
What was the most challenging aspect of your project?
Michael: The most challenging part of my Eagle Project was coordinating the expectations with the church and the community. Months before the project was to be started, I spent a lot of time emailing, calling, and sitting in meetings. In addition, coordinating time for the twenty-five volunteers to work together was difficult. It all paid off and we are all very please how it turned out.
What service work did you and other TASIS England Young Life members complete in Bulgaria?
Michael: The Scout Slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily” is one I try to live every day. The Eagle Project truly inspired me to do more, which led me to want to become involved in the Young Life (YL) Service Trip to Bulgaria. In Pernik, Bulgaria, YL members did a lot to help schools in the area. At the school where I volunteered, we built benches, painted seven large murals, and did basic cleanup. It was so much fun to play and connect with the students in the area, as well as to talk with them about their lives. After the school improvements were finished, the change was once again unbelievable. I am very thankful I had the opportunity to go with other TASIS students to Bulgaria.
How do you believe we could better support our surrounding community?
Michael: Many of the parents and students who volunteered at Christ Church told me they enjoyed my Eagle Project, as it reminded them of living in America or their other home countries. They said how they missed group projects that involved working in the outdoors and improving the community. I believe many students, parents, and faculty at TASIS England can relate to this feeling of satisfaction, after working to improve a part of your community. To better support the surrounding community, we at TASIS could start organizing more restoration and reconstruction projects. When discussing this with the gardeners at the church, they reminded me that there are plenty more opportunities for improvements in the Thorpe and Virginia Water area. They also said if there were any other boys looking for an Eagle Project, to contact them. But you do not need to be a Boy Scout to “do a good turn daily.” Please contact me if you wish to learn more about possible improvement projects in our surrounding area.